The best seat in the house

Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist

Over the last couple of decades now I have had the chance to observe and upon occasion be a part of some notable bowling experiences. Although my preference is to wander about at bowling events there are times that I simply like to just sit back and enjoy the action. I have chronicled on these very pages some of those moments.

Until recently the big three of my life have involved tournament play of some level. I still have my own memories of Toby Price leaping the barrier at a state event to encourage Wapak fans to root home the Redskins in one of if not the final year of proprietor control.

A year or so later I had the pleasure of setting in the stands at Wayne Webb between the fans of St Henry and Coldwater as they rolled for the first Ohio High School Athletic Association title. Not to be forgotten was the afternoon that I sat back in the lounge with Jason Couch and watched golf, talked bowling and football as Pete Weber through a fit on the lanes during one of the early pro events in Coldwater.

I am not so sure that those times were not superseded during the past couple of weeks when conversing with some very special people.

The first was a chat with Lauren Cunningham following a practice for Bath leading into the WBL and OHSAA tournament season.

The Bath freshman shared with me that whatever she did in the future (lawyer or social worker), that she wanted to stay local. The stay local mentioned reminded me that Vince Koza had once mentioned to me that she had been an inspiration to him.

There were different points that she made as we spoke that I feel would work for many. Last week we shared the three second rule. “Coach told me that we have about three seconds to be upset about a bad shot, and then we have to get back up and do better.”

She equated it to life. “We are going to be dealt stuff in our life! we have a very limited time to get over it and to make it better.”


Lauren shared that when the season started that she was simply looking for and opportunity to have fun with other students. That has change over the course of the season. She flashed a big smile as she shared the following. “I still want to have fun but now I also want to get better as we bowl.”

She clarified her reason for wanting to stay local when asked what got her through her ordeal with cancer. She playfully smiled and teased “Well chemotherapy certainly helped.” She then quickly referenced Team Lauren. “I always knew that I had people that cared.”

In another life I have served as both a medical and clinical social worker. I have had to deal with youth who could not handle the stressors that they have been dealt. It was indeed refreshing to speak with Lauren.

“I have a new perspective on life and want to become a better person. I feel that I owe so much to the Bath community for what they have done for me. I want to help others.”

She bowls but she loves soccer and bike riding. In fact she has ridden as much as 25 miles in bike-a-thons to promote cancer awareness as well as to raise money to fight the illness.

She is one special young lady and I am humbled to have had the chance to hang out with her.

It was Wednesday or Thursday of this past week that I got a call from an old friend, James ‘Bubba’ Brannan, arguably the godfather of high school bowling in Wapakoneta. The Division I was being held in his home house and we made plans to meet and talk some.

Bubba and I had spent a lot of time over the years at the stools by the coffee but those same stools were being used by staffers that were collecting at the door for the tournament. Instead we migrated into the lounge and sat at the first table with inside the door where we could still make out what was posted on the scoreboard as his beloved Lady Redskins were earning their way to state play and Abbey Ambroza was conquering the lanes and all competitors as she also earned her way to Columbus.

Bubba was accompanied by his wonderful bride, Deb and half the greatness of the day was the number of different folks that shared the remaining seat to pay homage to the Bubba who does not get out near as much as he used to.

A small sample size of who stopped in to love on Bubba that day was Gary ‘Tater’ Moore and two of the chips off his block, Sarah and Mike. Sweet Potato was out watching the girls closer to the lanes and saving his spot.

Dave Jeanneret stopped by in between watching his daughters compete. Denny Borgert got a break from the pit where he had been coaching and came and chatted as well. Britni Hosterman was back in town from Bowling Green to help out and came and gave her old mentor a hug as well. As the event ended, and Ambroza was crowned she grabbed a couple of minutes in that chair as well as her brother Drew had done a few minutes earlier.

Out on the lanes St Marys was crowned champion for the boys and Wapak and Abbey for the girls – still the champion for at least a small portion of the day was Bubba.

We love you my friend and thanks for the impact that you have made on so many.

Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

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